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COVID-19 UPDATES

COVID-19 LADY GOWRIE TASMANIA CEO COMMUNICATIONS
COVID-19 UPDATE AND HEALTH AUTHORITY LINKS

Dear Families, Colleagues and Friends

Lady Gowrie Tasmania has been in regular contact with the relevant public health authorities and regulators at both Federal and State level to seek the most current information in respect of the COVID-19 virus.

The organisation has developed a COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan and associated COVID-19 Action Plan. This plan includes the heightening of hygiene practices, suspension of child excursions to aged care facilities, review process for excursions generally to minimise risk in public spaces and requirements for isolation as advised by health authorities should that action become necessary.

The Tasmanian Government Department of Health’s most current advice for the community is as follows:

1. Stay informed. The Australian Government Department of Health website has detailed information and is being updated as the COVID-19 situation develops.

HEALTH.GOV – NCOV Health Alert

2. Practise good hygiene to protect against infection and prevent the virus spreading. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm, running water, cover sneezes and coughs and encourage social distancing where possible.

HEALTH.GOV – What you need to know about Coronavirus

3. Call for advice. If you think you may have COVID-19, due to recent travel or contact with a confirmed case, then please contact the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for further advice.

DHHS – Communicable Diseases Prevention Unit

A national hotline has been established for general information about COVID-19. Please contact the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for any general enquiries or health concerns.

Please be assured that Lady Gowrie Tasmania is undertaking all the essential steps to minimise any risk to children, families, learners, clients and employees and commits to continued communication as information regarding COVID-19 comes to hand.

Ros Cornish
Chief Executive Officer
16/3/2020

HOW TO TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

As our conversations and newsfeeds focus almost entirely on the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it is important to comfort and protect our children, follow normal routines and give them the opportunity to express their feelings.

Below are two useful articles and tips for families and educators on how to talk to children about COVID-19:

UNICEF – How to talk to your children about Coronavirus

CDC – Talking with Children

Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’

    • COVID19 – Update 10
      Keeping Children and Young People Physically Active During COVID-19

      There are so many simple and fun ways to keep your children physically active and outdoors over the coming weeks.

      Children need exercise, fresh air and sunshine every day to maintain a positive mindset and to support their overall development.

      Ideas for exercising in your own backyard include skipping, games on the trampoline, setting up an obstacle course, paper aeroplane races, backyard cricket, hide-and-go-seek and gardening.

      Ideas for exercising outside your home include bike riding, scooter riding, walking the dog, running races, sports games at the park, throwing a frisbee and climbing trees.

      The possibilities are endless!

      There are also online exercise, dancing, yoga and mindfulness classes which will help keep your children active every day. See below for some ideas:

      5 Minute Workouts for Children
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbVr38Bhe7E

      Dancing with The Wiggles (or any children’s music/bands)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch…

      Yoga and Mindfulness
      https://www.cosmickids.com/

      Finally, for those school age children who are missing their Daily PE sessions at school then try the following:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K6r99N3kXME&feature=youtu.be

      Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’.

      Supporting Children’s Mental Health During COVID-19

      Children and young people’s lives have been changed dramatically by COVID-19 in a relatively short period of time. They have been exposed to information about the virus in multiple ways, including through direct and indirect conversations with adults and via mainstream and social media. They have been experiencing a range of responses even if they do not always fully understand the information.

      Children cope better if they are provided with accurate, age-appropriate information, along with opportunities to talk about what is happening. Parents and carers have an important part to play in supporting their children’s mental health and well-being during this pandemic.

      Tips for Supporting Children’s Mental Health and Play During COVID-19:

      1. Discuss the pandemic in an open and honest way. Age-appropriate language and discussions should include clear information about how to reduce their risk of being directly affected. It is important to listen to any questions they may have, and to let them know they are safe and it is normal to feel concerned.
      2. Monitor your child’s emotions and behaviours and provide support when needed. Regardless of age, children are likely to feel a range of emotions and exhibit a variety of behaviours. This could include becoming more dependent, angry, anxious, withdrawn or start to regress with toileting. Children will react at different times. Some react immediately, while others may react many weeks later. Children’s reactions and the common signs of distress can vary according to age, previous experience and how they typically cope with stress.
      3. Respond in supportive, gentle and reassuring ways, including by listening to concerns and giving extra love and attention.
      4. Balance screen time with other offline activities. It is understandable that children and adults may be using screens (television, devices, tablets and video games) more than they typically would, or possibly exceeding the recommended limits of screen time for children each day. However, it is vital to continue to manage children’s screen time to protect their mental health.

      Five easy ways to manage screen time are to:

      – choose high quality, educational programs
      – watch or engage in screen time together
      – use screens for human connection with friends and family
      – balance screen time with other activities
      – model healthy device habits yourself

      5. Limit exposure to social media and television news broadcasts.
      6. Provide opportunities for play and relaxation including outdoor exercise, fresh air and sunshine.
      7. Keep to regular routines and schedules where possible or create new ones
      8. Lead by example and manage your stress through healthy lifestyle choices including eating healthily, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep.
      9. Seek professional help if your child’s behaviour and/or reactions become worrying.

      Children’s reactions are influenced by how they see adults around them behaving. When parents and caregivers deal with traumatic events calmly and confidently, children are better supported.

      Parents and carers who are prepared, rested and relaxed respond better to unexpected events and can make decisions in the best interests of the children and young people they care for.

      Spending More Time Together:

      Families are together more often now than prior to the pandemic measures being in place when work, school and education and care were more accessible. Play ideas, both online and offline, that can be facilitated in the home are shared below:

      Online Play Ideas

      – museums, zoos and galleries are offering online virtual tours
      – NASA are offering free access to their online library and resources
      – watch nature programs to encourage children’s curiosity about the world
      – participate in online meditation and exercise programs
      – search online for simple but engaging creative experiences
      – listen to high quality children’s podcasts and audio books.
      Offline Play Ideas
      – enjoy simple activities at home together – cooking, gardening, washing
      – build an indoor or outdoor cubby house and let children fill it with items
      – write a list of household and outdoor items and go on a scavenger hunt
      – camp in the backyard together – talk about the moon, stars and space
      – create a backyard obstacle course for daily fitness
      – play a traditional board game or card games together
      – provide open-ended play experiences – water play, sand play, mud play, construction, drawing, loose parts play with everyday household and natural
      items

      What can potentially be a very difficult time can also be viewed as an opportunity to engage with and have fun with your children, slow down and appreciate the simple things in life.
      Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’.

      Benefits of Loose Parts Play For Children During COVID-19

      Are you searching for inspiration for children’s play experiences while confined to your homes and not able to venture out into the community as you would normally do?
      Then loose parts play is the answer you have been looking for!

      Loose parts are basically any loose, tactile materials and objects that children can move about during play and exploration. They are versatile, open-ended and can be added to any play environment for children to adapt and to turn into anything their imagination allows. Children will ‘tinker’ with loose parts play experiences for extended periods of time as they explore and create.

      Many everyday loose parts play items can be sourced from home or collected while out exercising as a family. Items may include tin cans, egg cartons, bottle lids, animal figurines, corks, pegs, stones, twigs, gumnuts, acorns, felt, fabric, seed pods, shells, wooden blocks, dominoes, paper straws, pots and pans, leaves, icy pole sticks, marbles, match sticks, rope and cardboard boxes.

      The possibilities are literally endless!

      To learn more about how to set up simple loose parts play experiences for your children at home please follow the links below:
      ttp://littleworldsbigadventures.com/loose-parts-play-at-h…/

      http://littleworldsbigadventures.com/cate…/loose-parts-play/
      Please also refer to our Facebook post on 6th April 2020 about using old laptops, keyboards, DVD players and other unused electrical equipment as inspiration for loose parts play for older children.

      Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’.

    • COVID19 – Update 9

      Dear Families,
      I hope you had an enjoyable Easter break – albeit very different from your normal Easter break given the measures in place to manage and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. From some of the conversations with the children at the Lady Gowrie Integrated Centre in South Hobart today, it seems Easter Bunny managed social distancing very well and delivered treats to those eagerly anticipating his visit!

      Children and young people’s lives have been changed dramatically by COVID-19 in a relatively short period of time. They have been exposed to information about the virus in multiple ways, including through direct and indirect conversations with adults and via mainstream and social media. They have been experiencing a range of responses even if they do not always fully understand the information.

      Children cope better if they are provided with accurate, age-appropriate information, along with opportunities to talk about what is happening. Parents and carers have an important part to play in supporting their children’s mental health and well-being during this pandemic.

      Tips for Supporting Children’s Mental Health and Well-being
      Discuss the pandemic in an open and honest way. Age-appropriate language and discussions should include clear information about how to reduce their risk of being directly affected. It is important to listen to any questions they may have, and to let them know they are safe and it is normal to feel concerned.

      Monitor your child’s emotions and behaviours and provide support when needed. Regardless of age, children are likely to feel a range of emotions and exhibit a variety of behaviours. This could include becoming more dependent, angry, anxious, withdrawn or start to regress with toileting. Children will react at different times. Some react immediately, while others may react many weeks later. Children’s reactions and the common signs of distress can vary according to age, previous experience and how they typicallycope with stress.

      Respond in supportive, gentle and reassuring ways, including by listening to concerns and giving extra love and attention.

      Balance screen time with other offline activities. It is understandable that children and adults may be using
      screens (television, devices, tablets and video games) more than they typically would, or possibly
      exceeding the recommended limits of screen time for children each day. However, it is vital to continue to
      manage children’s screen time to protect their mental health.

      Five easy ways to manage screen time are:
      1. Choose high quality, educational programs
      2. Watch or engage in screen time together
      3. Use screens for human connection – regularly catch up online with friends/family
      4. Balance screen time with other activities
      5. Model healthy device habits yourself

      Limit exposure to social media and television news broadcasts.

      Provide opportunities for play and relaxation including outdoor exercise, fresh air and sunshine.

      Keep to regular routines and schedules where possible or create new ones.

      Lead by example and manage your stress through healthy lifestyle choices including eating healthily,exercising regularly and getting enough sleep.

      Seek professional help if your child’s behaviour and/or reactions become worrying. Children’s reactions are influenced by how they see adults around them behaving. When parents and
      caregivers deal with traumatic events calmly and confidently, children are better supported.

      Parents and carers who are prepared, rested and relaxed respond better to unexpected events and can make decisions in the best interests of the children and young people they care for.

      Spending More Time Together
      Families are together more often now than prior to the pandemic measures being in place when work,
      school and education and care were more accessible. Play ideas, both online and offline, that can be
      facilitated in the home are shared below:

      Online Play Ideas
      • Museums, zoos and galleries across the globe are offering online virtual tours
      • NASA are offering free access to their online library and resources
      • Watch nature programs to encourage children’s curiosity about the world around them
      • Participate in online meditation and exercise programs
      • Search online for simple but engaging creative experiences
      • Listen to high quality children’s podcasts and audio books

      Offline Play Ideas
      • Enjoy simple activities around the home together – cooking, washing windows, gardening, building and washing the car
      • Build an indoor or outdoor cubby house and let children fill it with everyday items
      • Write a list of everyday household and outdoor items and go on a scavenger hunt
      • Camp in the backyard together – talk about the moon, stars and space
      • Create a backyard obstacle course for daily fitness
      • Play a traditional board game or card games together
      • Provide open-ended play experiences – water play, sand play, mud play, construction, drawing,loose parts play with everyday household and natural items

      What can be a potentially very difficult time can also be viewed as an opportunity to engage with and have fun with your children, slow down and appreciate the simple things in life.

      Temporary Changes to Funding Model for Education and Care
      From 6 April 2020 families will not be charged fees for care from that date until week ending 28 June 2020. This payment is under the Australian Government Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package. Statements and payment for care provided prior to the commencement date of the new system will be processed as usual and it is hoped that the fee contribution by families can be facilitated as soon as possible so as the former system can be ‘paused’ until the end of the temporary funding arrangements. Children of essential workers, vulnerable families and children, and those enrolled prior to this date are the priority group for care under this package. Families who were enrolled can access the same care arrangement that was in place prior to the commencement date of the new funding model.

      Recognising our People
      The pandemic has resulted in many changes to bookings for education and care with utilisation levels at almost a third of the normal level, thus impacting on staffing levels. Staff have been extremely supportive in accessing leave balances and being flexible in working in different ways and sites over the past few weeks. This commitment and support is highly appreciated as it means the centre leaders have been able to adjust rosters to support sustainability during difficult times. In all of this, our people have continued to maintain heightened hygiene procedures, delivered quality programs for young children, remained professional and supported each other.
      Our most valued asset is certainly our people!

      Take good care and stay safe.

      Kind regards,
      Ros Cornish
      Chief Executive Officer

      15 April 2020

    • COVID19 – Update 8

      Dear Families

      As what is becoming a normal pattern, there are constant new measures being enforced by the relevant authorities to support the health and safety of our community due to the COVID-19 virus.

      The public order regarding family gatherings, no visits to shacks and staying at home unless accessing essential services will be enforced by law. This will have an impact on families, especially young children, as the potential for social isolation is real. With the usual activities such as sports, swimming lessons and the other extra-curricular activities no longer available, it is important for families to try to keep to the children’s normal rituals and routines when at home.

      Children need sunshine, fresh air and exercise so outdoor play is vitally important, along with monitoring the amount of screen time and a combination of active and passive play experiences. It will prove challenging to keep children active and occupied for significant periods of time while at home but there is a raft of wonderful resource ideas available online to support families. The Lady Gowrie Tasmania March edition of the Children’s Services Newsletter also has some home-based play ideas for all age groups.

      ABC will be airing a special COVID-19 episode of Play School this coming Thursday 2nd April at 4.00pm. In a simple and playful way, the presenters will be helping children to understand why they are staying at home more and why they need to wash their hands more regularly and cover their sneezes. I encourage families to watch this Play School episode with your younger children and use it as an opportunity to invite your children to ask any questions or share any concerns they may have about COVID-19.

      The recent request by the Premier for parents to keep children at home this week has resulted in significant withdrawals of children from both the long day care and outside school hours care programs. This will be followed next week by four pupil-free days before the scheduled school holidays commence after Easter.

      There will be care provided in southern Tasmania for the pupil-free days next weekfrom Monday 6 April until Thursday 9 April at the following Lady Gowrie Tasmania partner schools:

        Albuera
        Brighton
        Glenorchy
        Goulburn
        Lansdowne
        Taroona

      The planned Vacation Care programs in southern Tasmania will be provided from Tuesday 14 April until Friday 24 April inclusive at the following school sites:

        Albuera
        Brighton
        Glenorchy
        Lansdowne
        Taroona
        South Hobart
        Sorell

      For bookings at these southern programs please contact 6230 6805 or 6230 6806.

      The planned Vacation Care programs in northern Tasmania will be provided from Tuesday 14 April until Friday 24 April inclusive at the following sites:

        Frederick Street
        University North

      For bookings at these northern programs please contact 6331 5106 or 0438 109 367.

      It is important that any family withdrawing their children from care, either permanently or temporarily, advise the respective service. This supports the development of staff rosters to reflect specific needs at each service.

      Attached to this communique is information that relates to the support being provided to families by the Australian Government. Acknowledging the amount of government information and complexity of the funding systems, we have tried to make this information as clear and jargon free as possible so as it is easily understood. Families that qualify for additional support are encouraged to apply.

      The organisation continues to implement heightened hygiene practices for children and strategies to support small group experiences and routines. Staff are also working in a range of ways to support social distancing.

      Thank you to families and staff for their support in complying with the strategies being undertaken. It is when we work together to support the measures necessary to counteract this virus, that our lives will return to some normality. Like many businesses around the country, the education and care sector is under enormous pressure to remain viable and sustainable.

      These services need to be available for essential front line professionals now and even more so when we reach the recovery stage with jobs reinstated and when our community gets back on its feet.

      A quote by Henry Kissinger seems appropriate:

      ‘A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure’.

      Documents outlining financial hardship options and information to support families during this difficult and unprecedented period will be available on the organisation website from tomorrow.

      COVID-19 CEO Communique Attachment 2

      COVID-19 CEO Communique Attachment

      Stay safe and please take care.

      Ros Cornish

      Chief Executive Officer

      Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’

      20 March 2020

    • COVID19 – Update 7

      Dear Families

      As the COVID-19 issue escalates with increased directives from Governments to support the management and response of the virus, for Lady Gowrie Tasmania education and care services we continue to operate until directed otherwise.

      Whilst some families have expressed that the services should close the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee at this point has not recommended closure and this advice has been the basis for the Tasmanian Government decision to continue school and childcare operations.

      Staffing

      Some families have chosen to withdraw children for precautionary reasons. The impact of withdrawal will result in some of our workforce being deployed to other programs or services. We will certainly be very cognisant of ensuring that children and families continue to have familiar educators providing education and care but there may be times when an educator from another Gowrie service will be covering planned leave as opposed to the casual relief pool. This flexibility is much appreciated.

      Vacation Care Programs

      With vacation care program due to commence immediately after the Easter break, at this point the programs will go ahead as planned. Whilst there are changes to the advertised program due to the limitation of access to external entertainment venues the teams have worked to support the development of a fun filled program for children.

      Absences

      Should any family withdraw their child totally or make use of the government 42 days allowable absences (per child per year) provision please advise the respective service. This assists with data collection required by government and supports ensuring staffing rosters reflect utilisation.

      Management and Response

      Heightened hygiene practices continue to be a priority. Whilst spatial distancing is not possible when caring and responding to the needs of young children, we are doing what is reasonably possible to support this requirement. Our staff are very much aware of the need to do this in communal areas such as offices and staff rooms.
      Minimising access to services by visitors and contractors has been undertaken, along with suspension of all excursions and incursions for children. We now seek support from families to ask if possible one family member take responsibility for leaving/collecting their child from the service.

      Communication

      The organisation will continue to provide updates to families as further information becomes available. Such information will also be available on the organisation’s website, Facebook and Storypark. We will endeavour not the repeat information provided previously.

      Talking with children about COVID-19

      Children are naturally curious and inquisitive, so asking questions about the virus is inevitable. The Tasmanian Government have developed a good resource to support educators and families talk with children about COVID-19. The link is:

      https://publicdocumentcentre.education.tas.gov.au/Documents/Coronavirus-Talking-to-your-Child-Parent-FactSheet.pdf

       

      Thank you to the many families who have contacted individual services to express their gratitude and appreciation for all the work being undertaken and the continued communication.
      It is certainly challenging times for everyone, and the uncertainty weighs heavily on all of us.

       

      Take good care

       

      Ros Cornish

      Chief Executive Officer

      24 March 2020

    • COVID19 – Update 6

      Dear Families and Staff,

      I write to provide a further update to the everchanging developments and situation as the country responds to and manages the COVID-19 pandemic.
      Yesterday, the Premier of Tasmania announced strict new border measures ruling out all non-essential travellers entering the state, including mainland Australia, will be forced into quarantine for 14 days with severe penalties for non-compliance. This decision is welcomed as a further approach to protecting Tasmanians from this dreaded virus.

      As previously indicated, Lady Gowrie Tasmania will follow the advice provided by the public health authorities and the relevant governments in order to support the health of children, families, clients, learners and our staff.

      In terms of childcare, at this point it is business as usual, albeit with a great number of changed practices that have been referred to in previous communiques. To date, despite the high demand within the community, we have been able to secure goods to support provision of meals/snacks for children and increased hygiene practices.

      Some families have voluntarily withdrawn their children from care for precautionary reasons. Of course, we fully support family choice but ask that should this decision be made please advise the relevant service so as we can ensure our services are staffed appropriately and plan with our casual staff team.

      Naturally, we are very cognisant of the impact on our people if withdrawal from care increases or worst-case scenario there is closure. The organisation is working to develop plans for all scenarios – continued operations, partial downturn and temporary closure, to support our children, families, staff and community. Any of these scenarios will be based on current advice and direction from the relevant authorities.

      Whilst our conversations and newsfeeds focus almost entirely on the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, it is important to comfort and protect our children, follow the normal routines and give them the opportunity to express their feelings. A couple of useful articles and tips for families and educators on how to talk to children about COVID-19 available at:

      UNICEF – How to talk to your children about Coronavirus

      CDC – Talking with Children

      Attached to this communique are several user-friendly resources developed by the Tasmanian Health Department:

      • Handwashing
      • Hotline Contact Details
      • Self-Assessment Tool
      • Protecting Yourself

       

      To those families and friends who have sent messages of support and appreciation to our people, thank you sincerely – your thoughtfulness is so highly valued now more than ever. We are in this together, we need to remain calm and collaborate to do whatever is required to protect children, families, clients, learners and staff.

       

      Sincerely,

      Ros Cornish

      Chief Executive Officer

      20 March 2020

    • COVID19 – Update 5

      Dear Families and Staff

      Lady Gowrie Tasmania continues to commit to helping to reduce the risk of infection or contagion for all children, families, employees and clients, as well as to the general public. This is done by adopting policies and procedures recommended or directed by Federal and Tasmanian public health. work safety authorities and Tasmanian Department of Education.

      As an organisation we take children’s families and our employees’ health and safety seriously. Therefore, the COVID-19 precaution measures are constantly being reviewed throughout each day based on the Federal and State authority’s advice.

      Understandably, there is an amount of hysteria in the community however we encourage everyone to keep up to date with credible information, engage in respectful open conversations and for the sake of children’s emotional wellbeing, remain calm.

      It is vital that our people feel safe in the workplace and therefore although we understand families are concerned, the organisation will not tolerate abusive and behaviour towards any employees. These individuals are working diligently not only continue to provide quality education and care services to children, retain relationships with families, support their respective teams but also oversee the implementation of additional health and safety strategies.

      Lady Gowrie Tasmania services are highly regulated and have extensive infectious disease policies in place. As an organisation, we have increased the hygiene processes to an intensive level, including supervision of children’s handwashing, sanitisers available for people entering and leaving the services, additional cleaning services being undertaken. We also rely on families to self-disclose when and if they meet any of the risk factors identified by the Australian Government and Tasmanian Public Health Authority.

      When and indeed if a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in a service we will act swiftly, communicate immediately with families and staff and the directives of the public health authorities followed. We ask that individuals do not attend our services if you have been in contact with a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, or if experiencing any symptoms.

      UPDATED INFORMATION RE INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS TO TASMANIA

      In line with the Australian Government announcement all international arrivals into Australia from midnight Sunday, 15 March 2020, are required to self-isolate for 14 days. This includes people having travelled internationally en route to Tasmania. A person in isolation cannot attend public places, including work; the supermarket; school; childcare or university). If international arrivals start experiencing a temperature and flu-like symptoms, please contact the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738. If symptoms become more severe, like difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. Tell the ambulance officers you are in self isolation due to recent international travel. In many cases people who contract the coronavirus recover easily and only experience mild symptoms however you can help reduce the spread of illness. Help slow the spread of viral illnesses by washing your hands often with soap and water and using a tissue or your elbow to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

      We seek your support in modelling good handwashing practices at home, continue to follow advice from the relevant authorities, be cognisant of the amount of information your child is exposed to given the extensive media coverage, listen and respond appropriately to questions raised by your child.

      Information to support families talking to their child about COVID-19 is available on the organisation’s Facebook page and website. Regular updates will be provided to families and staff and provided via our social media outlets, website and Storypark.

      The current situation is evolving, and we are facing unchartered territory for our organisation, a nation and as individuals.

      Along with the Board of Directors we are continually monitoring the situation but protection of children, staff and the broader community remains our overriding priority.

      Take care in these incredibly challenging times of uncertainty.

      Sincerely
      Ros Cornish
      Chief Executive Officer
      18 March 2020

    • COVID19 – Update 4

      Dear Families

      The situation being faced in our country and indeed the world in respect of COVID-19 is unprecedented. I write to you to provide an update on Lady Gowrie Tasmania’s response noting that each day brings new information and developments.

      The health and safety of children, families, staff, learners, clients and the broader community is a priority. While the risks in Tasmania of contracting COVID-19 remains low, the risk of increased person to person transmission increases. To this end, Lady Gowrie Tasmania need to ensure we are doing all we can to keep people safe and reduce the spread of infection in our community.

      SERVICE DELIVERY

      So far, the advice from the public health authorities and relevant government agencies is that we need to operate as usual in respect of education and care services. Of course, the organisation will follow the advice and instructions as they emerge – which is on a daily basis. Should the situation change then the organisations Pandemic Response Plan will be implemented.

      HEALTH AND HYGIENE PRACTICES

      Since the pandemic emerged, Lady Gowrie Tasmania has heightened health and hygiene practices at all sites. To date, we have been able to access regular supplies of goods that support this process. Staff have been constantly reminded of the need to actively encourage and supervise children with hand washing practices, covering coughs and sneezes, disposal of single use tissues etc.

      GATHERINGS OF PEOPLE

      In line with national guidelines limiting static gatherings of large numbers of people, Lady Gowrie Tasmania has already cancelled, or postponed major events. Staff meetings and centre manager meetings will be suspended until further notice. Alternate methods of communication will be implemented to support these functions.

      SHARED SPACES

      Public Health advice is that shared spaces such as work areas, reception, staff rooms, communal kitchens, meeting/planning rooms do not present a heightened risk at present and remain accessible to staff. In doing so it is imperative that the essential steps recommended by health authorities in respect of health and hygiene are followed by all accessing these spaces. Whilst many of these spaces are not accessed by children and families, it is important to note our approach at this time.

      EMPLOYEE TRAVEL

      Whilst it is rare for the organisation to have international travel – no international travel will be authorised. Interstate travel will only be undertaken if essential and will require approval. Intrastate travel is unlikely at this point but will be approved on a case by case basis. This decision minimises the risk to children, families and colleagues.

      EXCURSIONS/INCURSIONS

      As directed last week excursions are suspended to:

      1. Aged care facilities are suspended

      2. Environments that are considered higher risk – large gatherings of people in an area

      Incursions: visitors/performers engaged must complete a health statement regarding recent travel or contact with people who have travelled (as per the government requirements) prior to their engagement.

      DISCLOSURE

      The organisation is relying on staff/families to disclose any contact with others as advised by the public health authorities. This includes self-isolation for 14 days if travelled internationally from 15/3/2020.

      GENERAL HEALTH

      As it is the case with any absences from work due to illness, staff have been reminded that if they are unwell, they should seek medical advice re treatment and any required exclusion from work. This applies to child illness also. If a staff person or child is unwell with other general illnesses, it is important when communicating with the service to be clear about the reason for the absence so as not to confuse the issue with the serious COVID-19. With the current situation it is more imperative than ever that all of us take care of our own health as well as that of others.

      GOVERNMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR CHILD ABSENCES – FEES

      The Australian Government has provided information on the above to all services nationally. When a service is open and a child is actually ill or not, including where the non-attendance is part of the family’s own precautionary measure against potential contact with COVID-19, Child Care Subsidy can be paid for up to 42 absence days per child, per financial year, without the need for families to provide documentation.

      Once a child’s 42 initial absences have been used, Child Care Subsidy can be paid for additional absences as outlined in Family Assistance Law. This includes illness and requires the service to retain evidence of the additional absence claimed e.g. doctors’ certificate.

      When a service is closed (as advised by the relevant authority) due to COVID-19, as the service is unable to provide care, attendance reports cannot be submitted to the Child Care Subsidy System and families cannot be charged fees.

      GENERAL

      It is imperative that we continue to follow strict hygiene practices consistently, both at home and in the workplace. It is also important not to add to the serious issues being faced by false information and hysteria. We all need to be kept informed with accurate information, remain calm, and importantly focused on supporting children.

      As new information comes to hand, be assured you will be kept informed. In the meantime, take good care.

       

      Ros Cornish

      Chief Executive Officer

      17/3/20

      Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’.

    • COVID19 – Update 3

      Dear Families, Colleagues and Friends

      Lady Gowrie Tasmania has been in regular contact with the relevant public health authorities and regulators at both Federal and State level to seek the most current information in respect of the COVID-19 virus.

      The organisation has developed a COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan and associated COVID-19 Action Plan. This plan includes the heightening of hygiene practices, suspension of child excursions to aged care facilities, review process for excursions generally to minimise risk in public spaces and requirements for isolation as advised by health authorities should that action become necessary.

      The Tasmanian Government Department of Health’s most current advice for the community is as follows:

      1. Stay informed. The Australian Government Department of Health website has detailed information and is being updated as the COVID-19 situation develops.

      https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

      2. Practise good hygiene to protect against infection and prevent the virus spreading. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm, running water, cover sneezes and coughs and encourage social distancing where possible.

      https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/what-you-need-to-know-about-coronavirus-covid-19#protect-yourself-and-others

      3. Call for advice. If you think you may have COVID-19, due to recent travel or contact with a confirmed case, then please contact the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for further advice.

      https://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/publichealth/communicable_diseases_prevention_unit/infectious_diseases/coronavirus

      A national hotline has been established for general information about COVID-19. Please contact the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for any general enquiries or health concerns.

      Please be assured that Lady Gowrie Tasmania is undertaking all the essential steps to minimise any risk to children, families, learners, clients and employees and commits to continued communication as information regarding COVID-19 comes to hand.

      Ros Cornish
      Chief Executive Officer
      16/3/2020
      Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’.

    • COVID19 – Update 2

      Dear Families and Colleagues

      As per my previous communication regarding the novel coronavirus virus that was recently identified in China, an update has been provided by the Tasmanian Department of Education, Education and Care Unit (ECU).

      The ECU are receiving regular advice from the Commonwealth and Tasmanian Departments of Health about the virus and implications for our communities, including education and care services.

      At this point in time, there are no confirmed cases in Tasmania. There is no need for alarm. What is recommended is to take advice from the relevant health agencies and take appropriate precautionary measures.

      Consistent with national advice, the ECU recommends that:

      1. Those who have been in contact with any confirmed novel coronavirus case should not attend school or childcare and remain isolated in their homes for 14 days following exposure

      2. Those who have recently visited Hubei Province in China should not attend school or childcare and remain isolated in their homes for 14 days after leaving Hubei Province

      3. Those who have departed mainland China and arrived in Australia on or after the 1st of February should not attend school or childcare and remain isolated in their homes for 14 days after leaving China

      4. Those who arrived in Australia from mainland China (other than Hubei Province) before 1st February can attend school or childcare, as long as they are well.

      The Department has produced a poster and information sheet relating to novel coronavirus and how to practice safe hand washing hygiene. The poster and information sheet will be available at all Lady Gowrie Tasmania sites.

      Along with the State Government Department of Education, the Australian Government Department of Education are providing regular updates to the sector about novel coronavirus. Factsheets in English for schools and early childhood education and care services and parents are available online.

      If you or someone you know are unsure about novel coronavirus, or have other specific questions, please call the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.

      If a child attending education and care or an educator/staff member (or their family member/s) are unwell and have travelled to China in the last 14 days, please call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for advice.

      If serious symptoms develop, such as shortness of breath, call 000 and ask for an ambulance. Inform the paramedics of any recent travel. If novel coronavirus is suspected, tests will need to be done. Your doctor and Public Health will provide advice on managing the condition.

      If anyone has a suspected case of novel coronavirus and is advised by public health or a health professional that they remain isolated, please advise a Lady Gowrie Tasmania representative who will in turn make the necessary notifications to the relevant authorities.

      Up-to-date information is available by visiting the Commonwealth Department of Health and the Tasmanian Department of Health websites. Lady Gowrie Tasmania will continue to provide updates to families and staff as they come to hand.

      Ros Cornish
      Chief Executive Officer
      Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’.

    • COVID19 – Update 1

      Dear Families and Colleagues,

      Lady Gowrie Tasmania is heeding the advice provided by the Australian Government in respect of the Novel Coronavirus (also called 2019-nCov), a new strain of Coronavirus affecting humans.

      In response to current advice Lady Gowrie Tasmania will exclude any person (employee or child) who has travelled from mainland China within the past 14 days (mid-January). Similarly, any person (employee or child) who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of Novel Coronavirus will also be excluded.

      The exclusion period will be determined by current advice from public health authorities. Of course, any such action is reliant on families and employees to disclose of any travel and/or contact.
      Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence for any infection. Families and employees are reminded of the increased importance of consistent and good hygiene, especially frequent handwashing before and after eating, after attending the toilet and covering coughs and sneezes. Similarly, visitors to sites will be required to adhere to heightened hygiene practices.
      The organisation will continue to monitor the health and well-being of all families and employees and will provide regular updates in line with advice provided by health authorities.

      The Australian Government has provided factsheets for early childhood education and care services and families. These can be accessed on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website link below:

      https://www.education.gov.au/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov

      Further information is also available by visiting the Australian Government Department of Health homepage or by contacting the state public health agency on 1800 671738.

      Ros Cornish
      Chief Executive Officer
      Lady Gowrie Tasmania – ‘Children First’.